Working Smarter, Not Harder: SMART Goals and Accountability

Tell me if any of these church goals sound familiar:  “The goal of this activity is to raise money.” “We want to spread the Gospel.”  “We want people to understand more about the Bible.”  
All of these are a good start but they aren’t SMART goals because they lack realistic and measurable expectations.  Today’s goal is to learn the definition, characteristics, contexts, and examples of SMART goals and their impact on church leadership.  
Definition and Characteristics of SMART Goals
First of all, SMART Goals are not exclusively linked to and do not originate from the church world.  They are amoral strategies that can benefit anyone personally or professionally. My purpose is to focus on how they can be used effectively in your church.  
The acronym SMART stands for goals that are:  Specific (clearly articulated), Measurable (quantitative and/or qualitative), Attainable (reasonable and realistic), Relevant (appropriate to church or organization’s principles), and Timely (time-sensitive with a clear deadline).  Note that these components don’t necessarily have to be written in that order but they should be clearly stated.

SMART goals in churches are easily identified and characterized because they:

  • involve clear, measurable and realistic intentions supported by accountability and evaluation
  • require honest reflection and persistent work
  • help identify, implement, support, and evaluate a church’s vision
  • help personalize the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)    

Contexts of SMART Goals Before reviewing examples of SMART goals, I feel it’s important to provide a proper context so you’ll appreciate their role in establishing a comprehensive strategy for your church.  SMART goals should be determined based on and with intentional reference to a church’s vision statement, mission statement, core values, action plans, and evaluation.  I’ll discuss each of these in future posts.  Needless to say, church leaders risk wasting time, causing confusion, and discouraging others by minimizing or overlooking these interrelationships.


Examples of SMART Goals Let’s return to the three goals mentioned earlier and construct several examples of SMART goals.

Example 1

The first vague statement was “The goal of this activity is to raise money.”  Several questions immediately arise such as “What’s the activity, How much money, and Why will it be used?”   We can restate this as a SMART goal:  The goal of this activity to raise $5,000 before August 20th from church and community members for the Alamo Township Salvation Army’s Hunger Relief Program.  

Example 2

Stating “We want to spread the Gospel” is too general because it’s unclear to whom “We” refers and also the means through which the Gospel will be “spread.”   A more focused SMART Goal is for senior citizens of Bethany Baptist Church to establish at least two weekly jail ministry teams, no later than September 2019, that offer Bible Study to inmates at the Madison County Jail.  

Example 3

Social media and website presence are legitimate topics for every church, however, the goal “to increase church website visitors” also falls short.     The following SMART goal specifies both current and desired numbers:  to increase the number of monthly visitors to New Bethel Church’s sermon podcast page by 15% (from 40 to 46) between January and March 2020. 

SMART goals provide a framework for attainable and measurable data that helps church demonstrate their vision and mission in tangible ways.

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